Skip To Content

Television is perhaps the most influential medium used for advertising.

TV advertising is effective because of the use of sights and sounds to appeal to viewers’ senses. It is powerful because of its ability to reach millions of people.

Like other forms of advertising, TV ads are federally regulated, and there are some laws that apply specifically to TV advertising. These laws are designed to protect consumers and provide advertisers with guidelines for how to market their products and services.

South Source takes a look at some of the principles and legal aspects of TV advertising with a Q&A session with Cale Hall, a Business instructor at South University, Savannah and president of Creative Approach, a design, advertising, and print agency in Savannah.

Principles of TV Advertising

SOUTH SOURCE (SS): What are some of the principles of TV advertising?

CALE HALL (CH): Some principles include knowing and studying audiences and demographics. Another principle is to build a brand and a lifestyle and another is to create desire in the consumer.

SS: What makes TV advertising unique from other forms of media?

CH: It is a relatively old medium with respect to American culture. Meaning, people are used to commercials — they are accustomed to seeing ads on TV. They are very short and produced with a great deal of concentration and intent. They often incorporate cutting-edge production techniques and equipment to catch people’s attention, as well as often sampling famous songs or original jingles that remain in people’s minds.

A pro is that TV is still a very popular format for media consumption.

SS: What are the pros and cons of advertising on TV?

CH: Cons are that ads on TV can be skipped because of people who have TiVo and DVR, so it is as if the ads are not getting watched at all. Commercials are very expensive to produce; they typically get very large budgets — larger than the budgets for an episode of a successful show. Thus, with the advent of some forms of technology, ads become a waste of money. A pro is that TV is still a very popular format for media consumption. Therefore, TV attracts large audiences. Many people will sit through the commercials and be influenced by them. There are, in fact, a number of channels that are specifically dedicated to broadcasting commercials only, including infomercials.

SS: Which industries/products/services are best suited to advertise on TV?

CH: Some of the best industries for advertising on TV include automotive, pharmaceutical, food, technology, and retail.

SS: In general, what is the future of advertising? How do you think it will evolve in the next couple of decades?

CH: The future of advertising is definitely via the internet. More and more content and consumers are moving to the internet. The future of advertising is also in mobile applications. In the next few decades, I think there will be an increased popularity of TV stations dedicated to commercials, and fewer commercials on TV during the content of shows. I think there will also be an increase of commercials becoming longer, perhaps like shows or short films. I think there will be more product placement as part of the show, such as in the film “The Truman Show.”

Legal Requirements of TV Advertising

Advertising is monitored by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Advertisers must be careful to act ethically at all times, especially when advertising to children, advertising potentially harmful products, and using tactics to stimulate demand.

The Federal Trade Commission Act set forth requirements for truth-in-advertising and created the FTC to enforce the provisions of the act. Truth-in-advertising requirements also apply to all kinds of advertising — TV, print, radio, blogs, and word-of-mouth marketing. Under requirements, advertisements must not be deceptive in nature, must not be unfair, and any claims made must be backed by sufficient evidence.

Ads are considered deceptive if they contain misleading information or omit certain information that is important to a consumer’s decision to purchase the product or service.

Advertisers must also have evidence to support the claims made in their ads and there must be a reasonable basis for these claims. Many factors are used to determine what evidence is necessary. The FTC looks closely at health claims about food, over-the-counter drugs, and dietary supplements, as well as claims about alcohol and tobacco and conduct related to high-tech products and the internet.